Qassem Soleimani

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Person.png Qassem Soleimani  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(Lieutenant General)
Qassem Soleimani.jpg
Born11 March 1957
Died3 January 2020 (Age 62)

Employment.png Force Commander

In office
1998 - 3 January 2020
EmployerQuds Force
Succeeded byEsmail Ghaani

Qassem Soleimani (11 March 1957 – 3 January 2020) was an Iranian Major General in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and from 1998 until his death, commander of its Quds Force, a division primarily responsible for extraterritorial military and clandestine operations.[1]

On 3 January 2020 Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed assassinated commander Qassem Soleimani’s deputy, Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani, to replace him as head of the country’s Quds Force.[2]

On 27 January 2020 the CIA's Michael D'Andrea, head of US intelligence operations against Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, was reported to have been killed in the Taliban’s shoot-down of a US military plane in Ghazni, Afghanistan.[3]

Background

Soleimani began his military career in the beginning of the Iran–Iraq War of the 1980s, during which he commanded the 41st Division. He was later involved in extraterritorial operations, providing military assistance to anti-Saddam Shia and Kurdish groups in Iraq, and later Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories. In 2012, Soleimani helped bolster the Syrian government, a key Iranian ally, during the rebel insurgency, particularly in its operations against ISIS and its offshoots. Soleimani also assisted in the command of combined Iraqi government and Shia militia forces (Popular Mobilisation Forces) that advanced against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2014–2015.[4]

Assassination

Donald Trump just killed Soleimani and al-Muhandis who defeated ISIS and Al Qaeda

Qassem Soleimani was killed in a targeted US airstrike on 3 January 2020 in Baghdad, Iraq.[5] Also killed were PMF members including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.[6] Soleimani was promoted to Lieutenant General posthumously.[7]

Keivan Khosravi, spokesman for Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), said that the SNSC is to hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss the assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani by American terrorists in Iraq.[8]

Pepe Escobar did report on 6th January 2020 that:

"Soleimani had flown into Baghdad on a normal carrier flight, carrying a diplomatic passport. He had been sent by Tehran to deliver, in person, a reply to a message from Riyadh on de-escalation across the Middle East. Those negotiations had been requested by the Trump administration".

To recap, he summarised the situation in his article as follows: "the United States government – on foreign soil, as a guest nation – has assassinated a diplomatic envoy who was on an official mission that had been requested by the United States government itself". The basic facts were also reported by The Independent.[9] Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif describes the circumstances in a CNN interview:

"General Soleimanis mission was to contain the anger in Iraq, following the United States murder of about 25 Iraqis. This is a very clear information that we had, clear information that the Iraqi government had, the government of Iraq has been on the record saying what he was doing. General Soleimani was the greatest purveyor of stability in Iraq".[10]

US statement

The United States Department of Defense issued a statement that said the US strike was carried out “at the direction of the President” and asserted that Soleimani had been planning further attacks on American diplomats and military personnel and had approved the attacks on the American embassy in Baghdad in response to US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on 29 December 2019.

ISIS reaction

The weekly ISIS newspaper Al-Naba portrayed Soleimani’s death as an "act of god" in support of its cause, and Muslims in general, according to BBC Monitoring. An editorial in the jihadi paper was careful not to credit the US or even mention Soleimani by name. It couched the gloating in a historical analogy, referring to “Roman-Persian wars” that enabled early Muslims to overrun both Persia – today’s Iran – and parts of the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as Byzantium.

Al-Naba also reported on the US and its allies suspending operations against IS as an opportunity for the group’s resurgence, according to BBC journalist Mina Al-Lami. While IS has not been entirely destroyed, it has not controlled any territory for months. Soleimani’s Quds Force fighters were among those that turned the tide against the IS ‘caliphate’ alongside the Syrian Arab Army and the Russian expeditionary force in Syria – while the US-backed Iraqi army and Kurdish militias advanced from northern Syria and Iraq.[11]

Questions

  • Why has the US decided to assassinate General Qassem Soleimani now when it is known that previous US presidents have renounced that option because of its enormous ramifications for the Middle East?
  • What was the role of the CIA in that decision?
  • Why was the “Gang of Eight” not informed?
  • Who was actually aware of this operation?
  • Did Israel participate in the operation?
  • Why is President Trump taking responsibility - and credit - for the assassination when the US (CIA) has hidden its hands in the murder of far less significant players in the past?
  • Why have various US officials provided different rationales for the airstrike? The answer to this question may have huge legal implications.
  • Has anyone - person or institution - attempted to benefit financially from the foreknowledge of Soleimani’s assassination?[12]

Retaliation

On Tuesday 7 January 2020, the Iranian nation buried the body of Qassem Soleimani, the senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officer assassinated by the US. In the early hours of Wednesday morning, that task completed, Soleimani’s IRGC comrades, acting on the orders of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, launched some 22 ballistic missiles from Iranian territory into neighboring Iraq, targeting the huge US air base Al Asad, in western Iraq, and the US consulate in the city of Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan.

In the hours following the announcement of these attacks, which were broadcast on Iranian television for the Iranian people, the world held its breath, waiting for the results. Shortly after the missiles were launched, Iran signalled its desire for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis through a tweet sent out by its Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, who described the attacks as “proportionate measures in self-defence under Article 51 of UN Charter.” Zarif concluded by noting that “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”

The ultimate decision to deescalate, however, was not Iran’s to make. War is not a one-way street, and the enemy always gets a vote. However, in launching its missile attack on US targets in Iraq, Iran appeared to go out of its way to signal that it considered the matter of retaliation for the assassination of Soleimani closed. First and foremost, Iran communicated its intent to strike US targets in Iraq directly to the Iraqi Prime Minister a full two hours prior to the missiles being launched; Iraq then shared this information with US military commanders, who were able to ensure all US troops were in hardened shelters at the time of the attack.

Showing off its missiles

The missile attack on the US incorporated new, advanced missiles—the Qaim 1 and Fahad-110—possessing advanced guidance and control capable of pinpoint precision. Iran had used these weapons previously, striking targets inside Syria affiliated with the Islamic State. But this was the first time these weapons had been used against the US. From the US perspective, the results were sobering. The Iranian missile attacks resulted in no casualties among US, Iraqi or coalition forces stationed in either Al Asad or Erbil. But the lack of lethality, however, was actually Tehran’s way of proving the accuracy of its ballistic missiles.

Commercial satellite images of the Al Asad air base taken after the attack show that the Iranian missiles struck buildings containing equipment with a precision previously only thought possible by advanced powers such as the US, NATO, Russia and China. Iran fired 17 missiles at Al Asad, and 15 hit their targets (two missiles failed to detonate).

Iran also fired five additional missiles at the US consulate in Erbil; US commanders on the ground said that it appeared Iran deliberately avoided striking the consulate, but in doing so sent a clear signal that had it wanted, the consulate would have been destroyed.

Trump had to back down

This was the reality that President Trump had to wrestle with when addressing the American people regarding the state of hostilities between the US and Iran.

Trump had previously promised a massive retaliation should Iran attack any US personnel or facilities. Surrounded by his national security team, Trump had to back down from that threat, knowing full well that if he were to attack Iran, the Iranian response would be devastating for both the US and its regional allies, including Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The US might be able to inflict unimaginable devastation on Iran, but the cost paid would be unacceptably high.[13]

 

Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:After Mossad Targeted Soleimani, Trump Pulled the TriggerArticle3 January 2020Jefferson MorleyDonald Trump has now fulfilled the wishes of Mossad. After proclaiming his intention to end America’s “stupid endless wars,” the president has effectively declared war on the largest country in the region in solidarity with Israel, the most unpopular country in the Middle East.


References

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